This story, from today's NY Post needs no commentary. It speaks for itself.
Grade-A dunces dumping desks
By AMBER SUTHERLAND and YOAV GONEN
Posted: 3:34 AM, August 12, 2010
Here's one way to flunk economics.
Officials at a downtown public school wastefully threw out hoards of pricey desks, chairs, cabinets and other classroom furniture yesterday despite steep budget cuts to city schools.
Residents who live near the Greenwich Village Middle School on Hudson Street said they watched in horror as sanitation workers crushed more than 50 pieces of perfectly good furniture -- and perhaps twice that -- in the back of a garbage truck.
"It was perfectly good stuff. It should be used and not thrown away," fumed local business owner Richard Butensky. "There were a lot of desks -- at least 50 -- and those were all destroyed."
The damage would have been worse if Robert Nassau -- whose wife runs a new private school in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, called the Greene Hill School -- hadn't rescued dozens of items lined up on the block ready to be pulverized.
He quickly hired and filled a truck full of the salvaged furniture -- at a cost of more than $600 -- after getting the OK from the sanitation guys.
"I just wanted to save the stuff from the trash. I saved half of what was there, maybe less," said Nassau, 38, who snagged about 100 desk chairs, standup cabinets, filing cabinets and bookshelves.
"It was either going to go to a private school or to a landfill," he added. "This will serve hundreds of parents and teachers and children -- it will make [them] very happy."
Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said the Greenwich Village Middle School already took most of its furniture out of the building for its new site at 26 Broadway -- a move sparked by the need for more space.
She said PS 3, which shares the Hudson Street building with the middle school, also salvaged some of the furniture.
"Other pieces that were left were not usable," she wrote in an e-mail. "All the pieces that were not usable were removed from the school today."
After being told that much of the furniture had been salvaged and that The Post had photos showing it to be in great condition, Feinberg responded, "Many pieces were either not usable either because they were in poor condition or inappropriate for elementary-school students."
The move that some witnesses referred to as "boneheaded" comes just one week after DOE bureaucrats tossed thousands of books out of a shuttered Manhattan Catholic school being used to house a public school in the fall.
It also comes after the city took drastic steps to plug a $500 million schools budget gap -- including cutting individual school budgets by an average of 4 percent and booting 5,000 kids off yellow-bus service.
Last year, school budgets were slashed by nearly 5 percent.
The funding situation was also so dire at the state level that officials eliminated the annual fifth- and eighth-grade social-studies tests to save a meager $800,000.
"What are they doing throwing all this perfectly good furniture away with the economy the way it is?" said Irene Papoutsis, 30, who took video footage of yesterday's trashing because she was so upset about it.
She questioned why the city wasn't at a minimum seeking to recycle the furniture rather than shipping its remnants to a landfill -- but said it was in such good quality that it never should have been tossed in the first place.
"It was definitely usable. The stuff was in great condition," said Papoutsis, who recently worked in a Bronx private school. "These desks were better than what they're using there."
Her video footage shows stacks of chairs and school desks and other metal and wooden classroom furniture lined up along Hudson Street as far as the camera can see.
It shows sanitation workers tossing student desks one after the other and then a 4-by-6-foot wooden table -- with no visible damage -- into the garbage-truck compressor.
"People are mad," Papoutsis said in narration to her spontaneous film footage.
An e-mail to Greenwich Village Middle School principal Kelly McGuire -- which with the move is being renamed the Lower Manhattan Community Middle School -- was met with an automatic "out of office" reply.